Royackers’ funeral drew mourners from across Jamaica, and the service had charismatic moments in its use of hymn, clapping and testimonials. His parents Joanne and Albert were seated at a respectful distance from the open coffin. “I hardly saw one person there who was not crying”, recalled Charles Dufour, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kingston. “Royackers was a man who sought to lift up the poor, not get down to their level, and for that he was much loved. May his soul rest in peace.” The coffin, loaded on to the back of Royackers’ white Toyota pick-up, was transported to a burial place overlooking Annotto Bay. “If I die I’d like to be buried here in Jamaica”, Royackers had written to a friend in Canada. Parishioners had fashioned a memorial to the “roots man” (as Royackers was known locally) from Jamaican Red Stripe beer bottles and packets of Craven A Black Cat cigarettes (the only brand that had Royackers’ approval). The shrine was then incensed by a priest.




“Was Martin Royackers some sort of a saint?”


Fr Peter McIsaac, a Jesuit based in Kingston’s gang-blighted Hannah Town ghetto, considered the question. “Certainly he was a very uncompromising person. No middle ground. You either choose Christ or you don’t choose Christ. That was his vision. And he died for it. He died in service to the poor.” Sixteen years on, the Royackers case remains, in police parlance, a “sticker” – one that would not be solved. Maybe it never will be solved. There is more than enough darkness in that murder for us all.




This is a longer version of an article which appeared in The Tablet on 1 July 2107



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